World's Top 20 Snowboarders - No.4 Shaun White

Love him or hate him, the man can shred. Flying his way into No.4 is none other than Shaun White.

© L'Heureux / Burton Snowboards

Proof that Shaun White was a snowboarder rather than an unfaultable snowbot came when he was arrested in Nashville for public intoxication and vandalism. Sadly though, this isn’t why he finds himself at number four in Red Bull’s Top 20 Snowboarder list. That’s purely down to his immaculate record of being good at competitive snowboarding.

Sponsored by Burton aged 7, he won the admiration of the snowboard mafia and media for trickery and style beyond his years. These attributes were undoubtedly helped by the fact that he was being schooled in the art of skating by Tony Hawk.

It is Tony’s success that Shaun now compares his career’s trajectory to. Not a bad comparison considering both have flourished in business and sport to the extent that they have become global brands with universal recognition and exposure. Hell, Shaun has been on Oprah, The Late Show, dined with Obama, been interviewed by Larry Clark, graced the cover of Rolling Stone topless and is slowly working his way up the alphabet of Hollywood.

All of this has made him a priceless commodity - consider his recent $10million deal with Burton. In fact as far back as 2008, when Shaun was just old enough to buy booze in the US, Forbes magazine deduced that he turned over $9million in endorsements alone. Which other snowboarder can claim to have their own gum, line of clothing and house accessories at Target, a video game named after them, and more controversially, endorse a line of micro scooters under the label of Shaun’s Shaun White Supply Company?

Shaun White at X Games
Shaun White in the X Games Pipe© Moran / Burton Snowboards

So why is he so successful, apart from having a very marketable mop (recently cut for charity)? First and foremost he is damn good at riding contests; big, TV blockbuster ones at that.

His wins and accolades are too many to mention but noteworthy are two golds at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics; 15 medals at the winter XGames, 10 of which are gold; he is also the only athlete to ever win gold in both winter and summer XGames for vert skating and pipe; he was TTR champ back in the season of 06/07; won Air & Style in 2003 and 2004; he is the only athlete to score a perfect 100 in the 2012 XGames pipe, and he holds the highest score ever for an Olympic pipe run, notched up on his victory lap in Vancouver, which he ended with the much awaited Tomahawk – a double McTwist 1260. This year alone he won every pipe contest he entered including the US Open, XGames pipe, Dew Tour and the Sprint Grand Prix.

And as if his bursting trophy chest was not enough to make snowboarding green with envy, Red Bull went and built him a private pipe on the backside of Silverstone before the 2010 Olympics, just so he could get those dubs on lock.

You would think that with so much success he should mothball his board and retreat into a life of acting and playing guitar, but he still has plenty to prove on snow to both himself and others. Topping this list is winning a third gold in Sochi next year and seeing if he can regain his potency in slopestyle; a skill which he neglected in favour of pipe in the run up to the 2010 Olympics, and a discipline where he gets frequently beaten – it’s the chink in an otherwise shining armour.

Anyway, however next years contests play out, it will be a long time before the big snowboard factory in the sky makes another bot as good as Shaun. Who could envy any rider that has to compete against him.

© Jeff Patterson

Don't miss our Top Three dropping this week as we continue our quest to unveil the world's top snowboarder. I'm sure most of you have guessed which three, but in which order will they be in? Find out tomorrow.